Consumer Electronics Entertainment

Don’t buy a TV unless it’s a Netflix Recommended TV, here’s why

If you’re in the market for a new TV, you may want to add one more criteria to your purchase consideration: make sure it’s a Netflix Recommended TV. Especially if you’re an avid Netflix fan like me, you’d want and expect the best viewing experience, regardless of screen size or device.

So, what’s this “Netflix Recommended TV” all about? Well, the folks at Netflix are a hardworking lot and understand that user experience is everything. The key focus is to create the best experience possible on wherever Netflix is available—a smartphone, tablet, PC, smart TV, Android box, you name it.

I spoke to Brady Gunderson, Director of Partner Product at Netflix, and he explained that while the company invests to create the best Netflix experience, sometimes even the latest TVs don’t necessarily offer the best experience getting Netflix itself.

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And thus, the Netflix Recommended TV programme was launched in 2015. It isn’t a siloed, self-indulgent initiative. The company works closely with device makers and platforms, with usually a year of lead time. The initial rollout of the programme got the support of the heavyweights in the TV space namely Sony, Samsung’s and LG.

Sony and LG expanded its certified range last year, while this year sees a new TV maker coming on board: Panasonic with its new VIERA range complementing new offerings from Sony and Samsung. Note that the timing of availability for Netflix Recommended TVs will vary by country, and not all models will be available in all regions.

The programme’s criteria are designed to ensure faster, easier and the best viewing experience from start to finish. And the evaluation process is rigorous. So, when you see a Netflix Recommended TV slapped on the new TV you’re about to buy, you know you can expect the best Netflix viewing experience.

The criteria and designations evolve over time but fundamentally include:

  • TV Instant On — the TV starts up instantly and apps are ready to use right away.
  • Fast app launch — the Netflix app always launches quickly.
  • Netflix button — a dedicated Netflix button on the remote control.
  • Easy Netflix icon access — the Netflix app is easy to access and launch from the TV menu.
  • Always Fresh — this new criteria involves the TV updating in the background, so the latest Netflix TV shows and movies are always displayed.
  • High-res Netflix Interface — with today’s TVs offering 4K resolution and higher, Netflix’s UI always offers sharp text, clear images and the latest functionality.
  • Latest Netflix Version — the TV always comes with the latest version of Netflix sporting the latest features.

A smart TV must meet at least five of the seven criteria mentioned above. Additionally, these TVs remember where you left off the last time you turned them off.

Gunderson highlighted the new criteria that’s just been introduced this year: “Always Fresh.” This means that anytime you’re using Netflix on any device, on a new day, there’s always new content, constantly refreshing. While your TV is “asleep,” it periodically checks Netflix in the background, so that when you turn the TV back on, Netflix is instantly ready to go. The difference in responsiveness is substantial as demonstrated in the snapshots below:

Netflix “Always Fresh”
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Above: TV without Always Fresh on a slow network; Below: TV with Always Fresh…instant on any network speed

Under the hood, the Netflix UI is constantly evolving too. Gunderson explained that while some changes are done with the belief that they benefit the users (self-validation only takes you that far); they sometimes run A/B tests to validate if enhancements offer a real world benefit. And importantly, do users care?

What you’ll notice about the Netflix UI is the focus on more video previews across all platforms. Interactive features have also worked well and you can expect to see more in the future.

Happy Netflix-ing!

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By Vernon

Vernon is the founder and chief editor of A graphic designer by profession, he has a deep love for technology, cars, gadgets, food, and travel. He tweets too much and is also known as a caffeine bacterium ("life's too short for bad coffee"). Bleeds Blue (go Chelsea FC!) and considers BMW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo cars to have in the garage--for true petrolheads, that is.